This post originally featured on Siege Media.
Organizing your workweek in a fast-paced role isn’t an easy task. Tidy up and organize your daily schedule with these seven organization tips for SEOs.
We are all aware of the saying, “SEO is always changing.” With ongoing tasks and the amount of changes that occur day-to-day, maintaining an organized and productive work schedule can be difficult to keep up with. In times like these where digital marketers are working remotely, fine-tuned organization can help withstand any work from home distractions.
Working for a fast-paced agency like Siege Media, I’m continually refining my own organization process to warrant the best results. To help you nail down a plan of organization for yourself, I’ve compiled some of my best tips. Use these as a starting point to tailor your personal organization methods and conquer your work schedule.
Spreadsheets Are Your Best Friend
Every SEO and digital marketer works with spreadsheets in some way. Extending optimal organization into the sheets we conduct daily analysis and tackle strategy in is truly powerful.
Most SEOs can relate, we spend the majority of our time conducting various audits and sorting through data. To organize all this information, I like to create a “Master Sheet” (we use Google Sheets). The main objective of the master sheet is to keep all the data sent to a particular client in one place. When the client is shipped a new recommendation, they can always reference the Master Sheet we’ve created for them. When a team member wants to be looped into the different tasks that have been executed, they can always reference the Master Sheet as well.
On top of this, creating a sheet to act as a table of contents on the Master Sheet helps refine things even further. Use this as a changelog of sorts to notate different types of information. This way, you don’t double-dip in the future.
Lastly, to keep these spreadsheets pristine (since mine are client-facing), make them beautiful. Use colors that align with your brand for cohesiveness, delete any unnecessary rows or columns, and make sure the data is easily digestible (think conditional formatting).
Set Up a “Quick List”
Working on a specific website for multiple hours, ideas are guaranteed to pop into your head. Even being on a site for 10 minutes can spark a handful of ideas. Ideas are great, but they require execution, and thinking through them takes time. If you are heads down on a website audit, setting up a formal to-do when inspiration strikes disrupts workflow. Not only that, but steering away from your audit may drive you down an unintended rabbit hole.
The best way to organize the different items that come up is with a “Quick List.” Personally, I like to use Google Tasks in Gmail. Google Tasks in Gmail is great because I’m in my email frequently and it’s saved on the cloud for when I work from a different computer. You can create different lists for different projects or clients and quickly add tasks/notes when things come to mind.
Other ways to do this are with sticky notes, a notebook, planner, or memo sheet. Jot down anything you come across and get to it later to use your time efficiently.
A Clean Inbox Will Do Wonders
Email is another area that everyone heavily uses. Just like every other aspect of your work, an organized inbox can make your life easier. Having too many emails unread and disorganized is a recipe for disaster.
Practice cleanliness in your inbox by archiving unnecessary emails. Do you really need all of those tool notifications sitting in there? I like to leave important emails unread (I’m not one to have hundreds of unread emails, just a handful), so I know to get to those first. You can also use labels, filters, or the star functionality for this.
There are various email clients available and different thought processes that apply for emails, so I won’t go into too much detail on how to clean your inbox. In short, don’t neglect tidying up your inbox. A clean inbox will make sure that you are able to quickly answer emails from your team members and not the Nigerian Prince following up for the fifth time.
Folders and Labels Save Lives
When you work on many projects, finding documents can be a daunting task – especially when everyone on your team has their own way of organizing things. Whether you are using Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc., take the time once a month to organize everything. Organize documents by clients, by project, or purpose to ensure they are easy to navigate to.
Make sure to label items correctly so when you need to find it, you can. Rename exports of things so they are descriptive. Noone on your team may be able to understand the file name “008164_export_data” unless they click into it.
Additionally, creating a system where you can easily find things has been helpful for me. If you are always doing content audits, be consistent with labeling them (Example File Name: “Client Name: Content Audit”). Also, utilize acronyms and abbreviations for projects to save time.
Bookmarks Are Like an Extra Memory Bank
Like any skill, staying on top of your craft through SEO news and case studies is essential for success. Organize your bookmarks with folders so you can look back to them when you come across a similar situation or problem. The different folder types I like to set up for bookmarks are by SEO focus (local, technical, etc.) and by tools/resources (writing, dev, etc.).
Remember that one time that that one SEO expert said that one thing? Me neither. But maybe I bookmarked something worth referencing. A plus side of bookmarking noteworthy SEO news and case studies in a browser like Google Chrome is it will pull that resource up for you (hopefully).
Automate What You Can
The last tip I have to become an organized ninja is to leverage some sort of automation. There are some automation wizards out there, but you don’t necessarily need to be one to make your work life streamlined. Luckily, there are tools that can do a lot of work for you.
Spending too much time digging through email or your notebook for login credentials? LastPass is great for storing all of the passwords you have and logging you in. Do you have multiple software your team works with and need that info on a spreadsheet? Zapier is killer for filling out spreadsheets automatically. Here are a few more examples of things you can automate:
- Proofread content in real-time with a browser extension like Grammarly
- Save time browsing through SEO news by saving top publications with Feedly
- Schedule the crawling of sites with Screaming Frog
- Respond to frequently answered questions with Zapier
The less you have to do mentally with these smaller tasks, the more brainpower you can spend on generating impactful recommendations for clients.
Utilize a Project Management Software
If you aren’t currently using a project management software, start now. A project management software makes it easy to bucket different clients (or projects), streamline communication among team members, and generate tasks. Use a project management software for looking at things from a macro perspective since it is easy to wrap your brain around the status of a project this way. The fine micro details like analysis, tasks, etc. will most likely live in a different place like Microsoft Excel or Google Docs.
The project management tool we use is Basecamp. The different “projects” are the clients we work with. Within each project we create to-dos, set up recurring to-dos, discuss project details, link to workable docs, and much more. Additionally, the visualization of the tool makes it simple to switch between projects and workflows. Other great uses of Basecamp are:
- Paired with a tool like Zapier (which is free with limited zaps), you can automate the creation of to-dos or create a ticketing system for internal requests
- You can use each Basecamp project to store documents (500GB storage space for Basecamp Business)
- The scheduling feature is helpful for getting a macro view of your upcoming tasks (this can be added to your external calendar)
Even though Basecamp works well for us, there are a large amount of project management tools out there. Depending on your needs, one will be better than another based on cost, versatility, and integrations. Here are some other tools that other SEOs recommend. They all have a free option, so feel free to test them out!
Additional SEO Productivity Reading
Productivity and organization go hand in hand. By working in tips from other brilliant digital marketers, you may come across a new solution to save time in your day to day. Here are a few additional resources that I’ve found have helped my overall productivity.
When it comes to automation wizards, Hamlet Batista is a name that comes to mind. He is always sharing his automation methods with Python scripts to knock out SEO tasks. In this guide, he covers how to generate alt text for images at scale.
Nick Churick with Ahrefs compiled a list of the 26 best free chrome extensions for SEOs. Chrome extensions are guaranteed to boost your productivity. Why look in the code for the nofollow attribute when there is an extension that will highlight that for you?
Running Screaming Frog is something we do almost daily and there are many possibilities with it. Jarod Spiewak from Blue Dog Media put together a guide on automating Screaming Frog. This is a great walkthrough on using the command line. If you aren’t comfortable with using Terminal, you can always schedule crawls directly in Screaming Frog!
Jake Sheridan put together a comprehensive list of different Google Sheets templates for marketers. Instead of spending time creating your own templates, use these as a baseline so you can focus on that analysis.
Maintaining an organized workflow as an SEO seems troublesome at times. Changes happen from all angles and having an organization system that works for you will keep you on track. Hopefully, you find these tips helpful!